Month: August 2018

Pug Corner – Frankie at Twilight

sunset dusk twilight sky

At the end of every day, right before the last of the light fades from the sky, I take Frankie out for an evening stroll. Provided the weather is not against us. Frankie is not fond of the rain. In the late summer and early autumn, it is still warm here in the South, even as the days grow shorter.

Frankie looks forward to sniffing every blade of grass, marking every tree or sign post she comes to, barking at any squirrel, and greeting every dog and person she encounters with a full pug smile. This is a great way to end the day.

Most walks, while flights of fancy for my pug, are the same routine to me. I hope there won’t be too many people or dogs. Frankie forgets that she has business to attend to when there is someone to say hello too. I pray there won’t be rain. It makes for a long night if Frankie can’t take care of her business.

It was a twilight that we walked one night after moving into a city flat. There is a lot of bustle around us, cars passing, tall buildings, lots of shops and restaurants and a sports arena.

BuckThere is a lovely garden in front of our complex where we walk each evening. The property is lined with tall trees that separate us from the office park next door.

Nature feels controlled and industrialized here. Until a deer appeared. The big buck jumped out into the garden, turning a routine evening to wonder. It stopped and stared at me and my pug for only a moment.

Frankie did not even bark. It was so alien to her she could not decide what to do. She froze and then the majestic animal leaped away, over the shrubs between us and the next property bounding toward the river.

My mind wiped out the city around me and saw the buck in its natural habitat, a clear view from us to the river as it would have been had the city not been there. My dreams were odd that night. Frankie slept as she always does, soundly but for a few bouts of snoring, the magic of twilight gone. For the moment.

Pug Corner- Frankie and Monday Dreams

On Sunday, Frankie gets to go everywhere with me. Then Monday comes and I drudge off to my day job.

She naps. She barks at every sound and dreams of technicolored squirrels. I have no clue what Frankie would do with a squirrel if she was able to catch one but even my pug has delusions of grandeur.

I return home tired. Frankie has been napping all day and is eager to play. She assures me that getting to watch me write is not playing.

My dream is to create a successful fantasy series. Hers involves frolicking with rainbow squirrels. By bedtime Monday is everyday to Frankie and Sundays are long forgotten. Time means nothing to a pug.

Pug Corner – Frankie’s Sunday

Frankie does not understand about Sundays. Her human, a writer and educator, seems off and is still snoozing past 6 AM. Best do something about that.

Ever since I rescued my Frankie from a life on the streets, I have not been allowed to sleep in. I wouldn’t change it for anything. There is nothing quite like being gently awakened by a pug.

She is always surprised when I stick around after our walk and breakfast. She wishes everyday could be Sunday. Sometimes I do too.

The Bard of Bars – I

surface level of wine glasses

There’s a pub on the end of a dark lane in a big city not too far from the coast. The bard, looking more vagrant than minstrel, swept into the tavern from the cold. He had expected the customary applause but found indifference. He wore a coat sewn together of various patches that would have marked him as a rare and talented spinner of yarns in ages past. Here, he looked some indigent seeking shelter from the rising winter winds.

Buzzing incandescent lights glowed a sickly orange in the haze of the dark room amid the cacophony of music, conversation, and the clang of glasses and plates all competing with screens showing some contest, the sound muffled by the tavern’s patrons.

On the wall, between screens next to shelves of various spirits, an odd drawing flickered in the shadows, animals and man melded together into a single creature. The bard smiled. There had been a statue near a ghost town he once visited that looked very much like the drawing. Every place had a hint of the tale needed.

“Ale for a tale,” he said to the ruddy barkeep, a fat man who looked a bit too serious at the taps.

Asmodeus“Brrrr…” or something to that effect passed the barkeep’s lips. “This crowd wants music, entertainment, sex, and blood. We’re not tots here looking bedtime stories. I serve hard drink for hard people.”

“My tale will bring you long life. Please, indulge me. One pint for a fable of worth.”

“Cash. Show me cash and I’ll show you the ale,” the barkeep said, not a hint of kindness anywhere in the bitter old drink slinger.

A waitress wearing scarcely a thing whistled for the barkeep’s attention and rattled off a long order of drinks, thumbing toward a crowd in the corner. The barkeep leered at her, unsavory and with ill-intent. The bard shook his head. Perhaps, he would strike the right note tonight and be able to end his wanderings at last.

Lust

The instrument on his back came loose at his touch. The patrons saw an old flat-top guitar but it was so much more. The bard ran his fingers over a few choice notes and with a pop and a gasp, all the lights and screens went black, and a hush fell over the room. Candles appeared in a inaudible whirr and flickered gentle light on the tables, on top of the bar, and a soft glow gathered about the bard. He searched the crowd.

Ah, there was the stranger in his customary hooded long jacket, dark clothes, and bare feet. No one ever noticed that.  The stranger had followed him through heaven and hell and everywhere in between for time immemorial.   That one wanted his name back. The stranger claimed his name was in one of the bard’s tales, one he had once lived. Find that tale and the stranger would let his wanderings end at last.

It was not this story. He told the tale of Wild Girl Meg and the Cursed Statue. In this village, a man and women married by arrangement, but the man was infatuated with a wild girl that lived in the surrounding forest. His wife, jealous, knew of a magic statue, one made of man’s lust, outside the village and made the appropriate offerings and prayed to the demon in the statue to turn her husband’s attentions away from little Meg.  Not a fortnight later, the villagers all disappeared. Some said the feral girl was a witch. Others had darker ideas. Whatever the truth, the patrons of this bar listened to the story.

The bard waited for a breath after for the applause. Some brought him drinks but none met the bard’s eyes. He did not notice the waitress putting her tray aside or wrapping herself in a long coat. She tapped him on the shoulder.

“Can I come with you?” she asked, her voice scarce a whisper.

“Aye. Do join me.”

The bard felt half-good about his take. He had wanted an apprentice so that should he die before his quest was completed, there would be one to carry on.  He looked for the stranger, but he was gone. The bard had not told the right tale, the one that would give the stranger back his lost name. Perhaps, next time.

 

 

 

Books & Beginnings

BlankBookAutumn is my favorite season. As the year is dying, I feel more renewed than dormant flowers rediscovering the sun in Spring. During September 2018, I will be sharing some of my favorite beginnings from the books that thrilled me, informed me, and changed me forever.

Yes, reading has that power.

I am doing this as an experiment. I wish to discover how many of my ones of readers are shaped by similar books that have moved me. What books have shaped you? I really am curious.   For example, this beginning was an adventure that started in my childhood and continues to this day. HobbitOpening

Some will be obvious and somewhat universal as this famous opening of J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit. Others more obscure or simply new.

Please, feel free to share your favorites.

Angels and Demons – Hadraniel

HadranielThere is a terrific tale about Hadraniel. This angel is the gatekeeper to the 2nd gate of Heaven. Do not dare ask me who the key master is. That’s not the point. Anyhow, Hadraniel is charged by the Almighty God of the Hebrews to give the Talmud to Moses.

Hadraniel did not like Moses, not one bit, and did not wish to give that red-sea parting man this holy book. Poor Moses had to face this intimidating angel, one said to be tall enough to stand on the earth and bump the moon out of its orbit. Moses had to face this gargantuan divine being all by his little squishy mortal self. Favored by God does not help when faced with a giant angel, and Moses has been falling short of his expectations time and time again. Missions for God are inherently difficult. But face the angel Moses did.

GatesOfHeavenGod reprimands Hadraniel for being mean to Moses, and tells him he must make nice. The tall angel straightens up (shame about the moon – God had to replace it immediately) and becomes guide to Moses.

I am not convinced Hadraniel did such a good job. Moses never makes it into the promised land. And that is simply good story-telling. Flawed hero, rebellious guide, great quest, and the hero dies in the end. That is a story that stands the test of time and can be told in many ways by moving the pieces of the proverbial tale-telling chess board.

Angels and Demons – Moloch

MolochMoloch is a first class asshat. Yeah, so he was once a god, the grand pupa of monumental jerks and depravity. The ancient canaanites worshiped this child-sacrificing pile of dung. Archeological evidence from the early 1900s supports the foul practice of child-sacrifice in ancient Carthage. Yuck.

Getting people to slaughter children (or even adults) on an altar is a classic demon move. Pretend to be a god, subvert people into doing the most vile and hateful acts and claim those acts as divine. Moloch was champion.

Moloch is an obvious villain. While his motivations may remain shallow, power and corruption of creation, his methods are terrifying. How many religions tempted men into slaughtering one another over the ages? How many demons fooled people into destroying their own souls? This is where story lives.

MolochAltarHowever, I suspect Moloch is a real power and still hiding in plain sight. Even in this modern age, we are still sacrificing children and committing profane acts and calling them righteous. Moloch just doesn’t require an obvious altar and hides his name, usually in suits wearing politicians. I doubt Moloch cares how innocent souls are sacrificed to his appetite. His power grows.

The only question is how can Moloch and those profane creatures like him be destroyed without sacrificing the entirety of humanity to the effort?